Prof. Dr. Helmut Leder

Prof. Leder is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of empirical aesthetics. He studies human aesthetic experiences, regarding a variety of objects, and contexts, from neurophysiological laboratory studies, to field studies in museum and outdoors. He studies (i) what are the cognitive and emotional mechanisms that determine what we like – and find aesthetically pleasing, (ii) what is the nature of aesthetic experiences, and (iii) what effects has beauty on our perception, feeling, well-being. He uses a broad range of research methods, with a major focus on behavioral measures (evaluations, scales, eye-tracking) and physiology (FacialEMG, EEG, tDCS, Nirs). His work is distinctively interdisciplinary, e.g. including collaborations with art history, the fine arts and biology. With his appointment in 2004 as Professor of General Psychology at University of Vienna, he founded an official research focus (Faculty level) in Empirical Aesthetics, which was the first of its kind, and has a leading role in various areas of empirical aesthetics (faces, design, art, museum studies, emotion). Helmut Leder will also contribute his expertise from acting as Head of Department (since 2004), as Speaker of the interdisciplinary Research Institution Cognitive Science HUB, and co-founder of the doctoral school CoBeNe. Helmut Leder has published more than 150 peer-reviewed papers, in various fields of empirical aesthetics and visual perception. From 2014 until 2018 he was the president of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics (IAEA) and organized the biannual international Conference of IAEA 2016 in Vienna. In Vienna, fruitful collaborations with the art history department, the University of Applied Art, and various museums have been consolidated. He was a Founding International Member of the Global Institute of Advanced Studies (GIAS at NYU), International Consultant of the UMA Project (PI Hekkert, TU Delft), and has received several grants (FWF, DFG, WWTF, MC EU; Austrian Ministry, UNIVIE). In 2018 he was a visiting professor at Keio University, Tokyio and a Fellow at the Italian Academy of Advanced Studies in America, at Columbia University, N.Y.

Additional collaborators and human resources

Beyond the project team, the EVA Lab comprises two postdocs, four doctorate students, research assistants and support by a full-time technician, all of whom will contribute. In addition to the EVA Lab, the Department of Basic Psychological Research also includes the Social, Cognitive, and Affective (SCAN) Unit (Lamm), which specializes in neuroimaging and empathy. The project will also be integrated into the Cognitive Science Research Platform, which has a focus of strengthening interdisciplinary research efforts. The project team is also connected to Cultural Psychology (Slunecko), Cognitive Biology (Fitch, Huber, Bugnyar), and has an ongoing research collaboration with Art History (Prof. Rosenberg, Cognitive Research in Art History Lab, University of Vienna). The University provides a full range of project management support services to project staff through the Research Services and Finance Departments, in addition to specific support services e.g. ethics and Open Access.

Relevant (selected) publications

1.) Leder, H., & Nadal, M. (2014). Ten years of a model of aesthetic appreciation and aesthetic judgments: The aesthetic episode--Developments and challenges in empirical aesthetics. British Journal of Psychology, 105(4), 443–464.

2.) Leder, H., et al. (2012). How art is appreciated. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 6(1), 2.

3.) Leder, H., et al. (2006). Art expertise: A study of concepts and conceptual spaces. Psychology Science, 48(2), 135.

4.) Leder, H., et al. (2006). Entitling art: Influence of title information on understanding and appreciation of paintings. Acta Psychologica, 121(2), 176–198.

5.) Leder, H., et al. (2004). A model of aesthetic appreciation and aesthetic judgments. British Journal of Psychology, 95(4), 489–508.

Relevant (selected) projects and activities

1) Head of Department of Basic Research in Psychology.

2) Speaker of Research Focus "Perceptual Aesthetics"; since 2004.

3) Head of Cognitive Science Research Platform; since 2017 (Deputy Head since 2011).

4) President of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics (2014-2016).

5) HRSM grant „Socially Aligned Visual Art Technology and Perception“, 1,000.000 € (Univie about 145,000 €) in 2017.